November 2005

Firing Line: 11/05

Re “Convertible .45 Revolvers: Ruger and Cimarron Face Off”
May 2005:

As usual, your evaluation was thorough and informative. However, I believe your recommendation not to buy the Cimarron [shown adjacent] because the gun shot low with the .45 ACP loads did not serve your readers well. All guns, whether equipped with fixed or adjustable sights, will shoot low at some yardage. Most practical shooters learn how much to elevate the front sight over the rear sight to compensate for this. Some even place a dot or scribe a mark on the front sight to indicate where they need to hold for longer yardages.

Overall, you rated the Cimarron higher than the Ruger. I have owned and shot both guns and agree with your evaluation. But I would not pass up the opportunity to buy the Cimarron because it shoots .45 ACPs lower than the .45 LC.

My Cimarron shoots both .45 LC and .45 ACPs to the same elevation at 25 yards. Unfortunately, as you found, it shoots both loads about 3 inches left. This bothers me more than shooting low since it requires some experienced gunsmithing to correct. The Cimarron Users Manual acknowledges that some guns will not shoot to correct windage and states that the front sight should not be bent but that the barrel should be twisted by a gunsmith. I am not sure how this would affect the alignment of the ejector rod with the frame, but I know this is a traditional fix for the problem. Thanks for an excellent publication.

Buzz Chamberlain

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Re “Guns and Accessories Reviews: FN, Remington, and Bower”
March 2005:

I was gratified to read your evaluation of the FN Five Seven [shown adjacent]. I have had mine for several months now and am enjoying it immensely. I was able to obtain 20-round magazines for it. Several friends of mine have also purchased it, and we have tried it out under various conditions with great satisfaction.

You stated that the lack of expanding ammunition for the general public may be the only drawback. We (very unscientifically) used the available ammunition (from FN, not Winchester) on a phonebook that had been tightly wrapped with duct tape. The results were amazing.

I know this is no indication of how this round will perform in softer tissue, but two of my friends have gone to carrying this pistol exclusively as a concealed carry piece. I alternate between it and my Kimber Ultra CDP II.

On the use of the safety, I use my trigger finger to activate the safety. Safety training policy is to keep your trigger finger along the frame until ready to shoot. This puts the tip of my trigger finger right on the safety. Handy location, no?

Alex Glenn


In our March 2005 evaluation of the FN 5.7X28mm pistol, our only real complaint was the limited choice of ammunition. The single round available to civilians was a “ball” ammunition that despite its hollow point would not expand when fired into a block of Simcast ballistic material. Instead it tunneled and weaved through the media in much the same manner as a typical rimfire slug. The military ammunition was designed to create a larger wound canal by tumbling, but now an expanding-tip projectile in this caliber is being offered to the public. The SS196SR Sporting Round utilizes a 40-grain Hornady V-MAX bullet. Cartridge weight is listed as 105 grains and muzzle velocity is a claimed 1650 fps. In our view this should make the low-recoil high-velocity FN 5.7X28mm system even more appealing. For more information, visit www.fnhusa.com and refer to product number 10700014. Or call 703-288-1292. —Roger Eckstine

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Re “Guns and Accessories Reviews: FN, Remington, and Bower”
March 2005:

I would like to thank you for the write up on the Ruger #1. Since I’m just getting the business started, this may be the help I need to get things rolling. There have been a lot of changes on what we do to the Ruger in the past few years and have seen positive results with them. I have been thinking about having another one built with a Broughton 5C (canted land) barrel. The Broughton barrels have been getting very good reviews in the shooting community in the last year.

Also, I did notice that the email address was incorrect. It should be <sheehan93@hotmail.com>.

Marc Sheehan
Bower shooting Products
Papillion, Nebraska

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Re “Self-Defense .45 GAP Loads: None Have Everything We Want”
February 2005:

I enjoyed reading the article on the .45 GAP. My small hands have to work fairly hard at controlling my 1911 in .45 ACP, not to say it can’t be done, but it’s harder than it ought to be. I find the potentially shorter grip radius very promising.

You invited comment, or constructive criticism on your accuracy standards, so here it is: 25-yard accuracy is required when dealing with a hunting load, and is fine on any other load, but what really counts is close, rapid-fire drills into silhouettes. Certainly, you can do some good break-in work with 25-yard shooting, and let’s face it: As readers, we wouldn’t feel satisfied if it weren’t there. But since we ain’t talking about knocking over bowling pins, but rather a close encounter of the deadly kind, please include rapid-fire drills. This should confirm your power-factor ceiling too!

Brian White

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Re “9mm +P and +P+ Cartridges: Winchester & Remington Win”
March 2005:

Since few of us are likely to be confronted by a naked assailant in a self-defense situation, perhaps you should consider testing penetration and expansion with clothed gelatin. Some bullets show quite a difference in performance between naked and clothed gelatin.

Bill Henneberg

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Testing Yardage
I’ve been a subscriber for two years, and I have a request. Please test all handguns at 25 yards instead of 50 feet, 15 yards, or 25 yards. It is so hard to compare different guns, it gets frustrating. The NRA tests all handguns at 25 yards, and this makes it very easy to do comparisons. This is the only thing that bothers me about your otherwise good magazine.

Rich Whitestine


I test handguns at what I feel is an appropriate distance based primarily on sight radius. The design intention of a weapon is another important consideration, and this is often reflected in the type of sights that come with the gun. Guns with barrel lengths 4 inches or longer generally get the 25-yard test. Compact guns and snubbies are generally tested at 15 yards, but we have tested many 2.5-inch-barreled revolvers and compact pistols at 25 yards simply because they prove up to the task. In my pre-testing or “get acquainted” sessions, I try to establish the limitations of each gun. If the test pistols are competent out to 25 yards despite a shorter sight radius, I will bypass the 15-yard session. Going the other direction, if a full-size gun can’t make 25 yards, that is unfortunate and no accommodation will be made. Subcompact and smaller guns may be tested at shorter distances if they have minimal sights or were intended for contact distance shooting. In this case reliability and rapid deployment may take precedence over distance shooting. —Roger Eckstine

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Re “Firing Line”
April 2005:

I’m not sure who Doug McKenzie’s been talking to in Idaho Falls about bad Kel-Tec P3ATs. Everyone I know in Denver who has them loves them. The dealers say they can’t keep them in stock, they sell so fast. Initially, I also had a problem similar to Doug’s, where the case would fail to eject, but that sorted itself out within the first 50 rounds. I must compliment Kel-Tec’s customer service; when I stripped the P3AT during its first session to figure out why it was jamming, the guide rod when wheeeeing off into the berm (I am spoiled by my Glock’s captive guide rod and spring assembly). I called up Kel-Tec, asked them for a replacement, and inside of four days I had a new one in my mailbox, free of charge. Now my P3AT works fine, no problems at all. It sounds like Doug hasn’t talked to Kel-Tec yet, because if he had, I think they would have fixed it for him without argument. My P3AT is most accurate with Winchester SWC target ammo and with Federal Hydra-Shoks, but functions reliably with all major brands. I trust my P3AT enough to carry it every day.

Bart Rhoten
Aurora, Colorado

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Re “TDA .40 S&W Pistols: Vertec Beats Cougar and 4013TSW”
April 2005:

The article on the Beretta Vertec in .40 S&W appears to have had two points of misinformation. First, the Cougar model is no longer produced. Then, how can the Vertec model absorb recoil better when its weight is about the same as that of the smaller Cougar?

John Mondejar


The Cougar 8040F Inox that we tested was catalog number JS80401. On page 15 of the April issue, the left-side profile clearly displays key numbers that positively identify this pistol. When I checked the Beretta USA website after this article appeared, sure enough all the 8000-series pistols, i.e., the Cougars, were gone from the product list. I checked with a rep in sales and customer support. They had no immediate information regarding the 8000 series pistols, leading me to believe that they were not aware of the change either.

Laurel Smith, marketing director for Beretta, said production of the Cougar lineup was suspended in March 2005, after we had received and tested our sample. Currently, no decision has been reached as to the future of this series. I was told it was not because of any structural defect or inherent problem with the design. This pistol is still in the wholesale/retail pipeline and is used by law enforcement and the military. Technical support and repair for the Cougars will continue indefinitely.

I hope Beretta finds a place for it in their lineup. —Roger Eckstine

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Re "Firing Line"
April 2005:

Jim Sands asked a logical question about selecting a firearm. Your self-defense recommendations were right on target: “We get a lot of requests like yours, but it’s not a question we can answer for you. I advise getting with a local instructor and shooting a selection of handguns, including revolvers, to narrow down the field of choices.”

I would also like to suggest that readers unfamiliar with a certain firearm type might benefit from spending a day at a NRA Basic Class, or a half-day at a FIRST (Firearm Instruction, Responsibility and Safety Training) STEPS class.

The NRA basic course will take a day to complete and covers:

• safe firearm handling.
• firearm parts and operation.
• ammunition and its function.
• shooting fundamentals and an opportunity to develop them on the range.
• how to select, clean and store a firearm.
• review of various activities available to help participants develop and improve their shooting skills

To find an NRA class in your neighborhood, go to <www.nrahq.org/education/training/find.asp>.

John McEnroe
NRA Instructor
Portland, Oregon

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Which Fifty Do We Buy?
As you are no doubt aware, the .50 BMG is in jeopardy of being banned by several states. I frequent several message boards on the internet, and lots of friends are looking at the .50s available now, but we want to know the good and bad points about them from someone other than the manufacturers. I called seven of the manufacturers today, and the waiting lists to buy are seven months at best. We have to get our money in before any ban to be assured of a gun. Are you going to be doing some .50 reviews to help us decide the right way to go?

Ron Cornelison


We tested four .50 BMGs in the January 2003 issue, “For a Real Kick, Try a Big Fifty: We Test a Quartet of BMGs. —Todd Woodard

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1911 Safety
As a former Military Police NCO and instructor, I feel I can speak with some authority on the venerable 1911A1 .45 ACP. It was the workhorse for the U.S. Army for about 80 years.

There are five safeties on the 1911A1.

1. Thumb safety for carrying cocked and locked.

2. Grip safety, which prevents the trigger from being engaged if the gun in not held in a hand.

3. Half-cock safety notch.

4. The inertia firing pin, which cannot touch both the hammer and the primer at the same time.

5. The “adjustable nut” who uses the gun and is the only truly functional safety or danger.

The idea that the 1911A1 is not safe came from one overly publicized incident that may have been due to a weak firing pin spring and a series of unfortunate circumstances. A 1911A1 was dropped on the sidewalk while a soldier (adjustable nut) was mishandling the gun. It fell directly on the barrel with enough speed to cause the firing pin to move forward. The spring was not strong enough to prevent the pin from detonating the primer, which fired the shell, destroying the gun and not helping the career of the soldier either.

If a gun can be used and misused for 80 years and have one malfunction, that is a safe enough record. The 1911A1 is still the standard most guns try to live up to.

Roger Combs